Children are the future. They are the bright lights that are that shoulder the dreams of the society for a prosperous future. It is for this reason why children are pampered by the family and nearby elders. The education of a child is one key aspect that traditionally has occupied a vast swathe of society’s attention. But recently, the most sought-after profession of kindergarten teaching has become a monotonous and dull profession focused on a one-size-fits-all approach.
Kindergarten teaching-A profession of the last resort for teachers:
Currently, the Indian kindergarten system is one of the worst in thousands of years old Indian history. Loads of children are cramped in a small room and generally, a single teacher is there to guide dozens of children throughout the day. Each child is unique. Each child differs in the level of curiosity and thus has a unique thought process. To assume that the same teaching style will suit all is completely wrong. Each child could contribute something on his/her own, but a centralised approach towards kindergarten schooling ensures that every child gets lined up in an assembly line and learn particular skills taught by a salaried teacher. Moreover, a teacher’s salary is often directly correlated to a children’s report card which results in zero nuanced approaches from them as well.
An overview of the Gurukul system:
Our current learning system can take a few leaves out of our ancient but most successful Gurukul system. In the Gurukul system, students used to go to Guru’s place, live there and study. There was no fixed fee. Financially, Gurukuls were dependent on state patronage/grants or donations by the public. For their entire student life, their teachers were their guardians, Gurukul their home and fellow students their family. For a Guru, all students residing in his Gurukul were equal regardless of the position of their family. Whatever Guru had was passed on to the student without expecting any immediate gain.
A few key features due to which Gurukuls were effective in imparting knowledge along with morality are
- Early Cognitive development-Except for some exceptional unavoidable circumstances, children were required to be enrolled in Gurukuls as early as possible. These are the times when a child has not learnt worldly manners from society. It’s easy to feed new knowledge and information to an underdeveloped brain. This can be emphasised from the fact that Abhimanyu, one of the fiercest warriors in Mahabharat had learnt his skills while listening to his father’s explanation of the art of breaking the chakravyuh. Since Draupadi slept while Arjun was explaining the art of getting out from it, Abhimanyu failed to implement the second part of his father’s lesson on the field. Since, even before arriving in Gurukul, kids used to be armed with basic alphabet and sentence formation thanks to a proactive role by society, a Guru’s main job was to pass advanced level knowledge to kids right from the beginning. In fact, through the Gurukul system, it is possible to complete the whole syllabus of modern-day schooling within 2-3 years. Since reading text is easy and interpreting it in the correct context is tougher, an in-depth discussion called Shastrath were organised, which played a key role in teaching correct interpretational techniques to children.
- Art of teaching in Gurukuls-Gurus in Gurukuls used a unique methodology to teach their disciples. Students were required to not just read a text, but also form a pictorial representation of these texts in their brain. Moreover, along with various other students (called shishyas), a student group formed a harmonic tonality with regard to the text they used to read. Suppose, you have to understand the meaning of a poem as well as learn it word by word. To fulfil both these requirements, a child first had to make a pictorial representation of the metaphorical meaning of the poem explained by the Guru. Then along with his friends, he had to memorise it through a separate musical rhythm of the poem, known to only that specific group of students. This ensured that a child’s left, as well as, right-brain was used at their full capacity.
- Moral system-Just like modern-day military boot camps, shishyas under Gurukul had full responsibility of maintaining Gurukuls They learnt to respect elders through respecting their Gurus. The responsibility of cleaning the Gurukul, gardening it with flowers and maintaining a pure atmosphere with regard to sanskaras were all taken care of by shishyas under the guidance of Gurukul heads. This ensured that the messianic stage (a stage in human life where a person starts to treat him/herself as a messiah and saviour of the world) did not go waste in serving some nefarious agendas of anti-social elements in society. Gurukul’s moral system ensured that children’s energy is used only for the betterment of family, society, and themselves.
Britishers destroyed the Gurukuls, while the Internet and digitisation took care of the rest:
Gurukuls had been a key part of our education system up until a large part of the 19th century. However, constant discouragements by Britishers and their Indian brethren made sure that Gurukuls are replaced by Christianity driven school systems. A thorough campaign was run for defaming Gurukuls. However, up until the end of 2010, Gurukuls could be observed in small towns. In fact, a few hundred metres from my house, there used to run a Gurukul whose disciples could poetically elaborate every article of the Indian constitution at the age of 15. Later, the internet era ran a route and digitisation ensured that children become overprotected members of society and Gurukuls were replaced by expensive private schools whose sole purpose is to increase the profiteering business of their owners.
In contrast to the Gurukul system, modern schooling in kindergarten solely relies on rote learning. If children face some learning difficulty, they are instantly provided with a YouTube link for their problems. This is creating under-confident children whose brains are completely unutilised and hence not able to grow. In the current education system of kindergarten, our over-protected children are turning into snowflakes who get hurt by simple words.